Folk­lore are trea­sure a trove of knowl­edge. They not only tell a lot about the think­ing of  ear­lier gen­er­a­tions but also about their bond­ing with the ele­ments of earth. Some­times they carry a mes­sage which would have tran­scended sev­eral gen­er­a­tions. Here is one of those sto­ries from the land of Kiwis.

The kiwi’s ances­tor helped Tane-mahuta save his chil­dren, the trees, which were being eaten by bugs and begin­ning to sicken. All the birds were called together and asked if one would come down from the for­est canopy to live on the for­est floor and help save the trees.

Not a bird spoke, so each one was asked in turn.

Tui refused.  He was afraid of the dark­ness down on the ground, away from the sun.

Pukeko refused.  He found the for­est floor too cold and the earth too damp.

Pipi­wha­rau­roa, the shin­ing cuckoo, also refused. He was too busy build­ing his nest.

But kiwi agreed.  He looked at the sun fil­ter­ing through the high leaves and the damp cold earth, and he looked around and saw his fam­ily.  And still he agreed.

Tane-mahuta was filled with joy, for this lit­tle bird gave him hope, but he felt he should warn kiwi of what lay ahead.

E kiwi, do you realise you will have to grow thick, strong legs so that you can rip apart logs on the ground.  That you will loose your beau­ti­ful coloured feath­ers and wings so that you will never be able to return to the for­est roof. You will never see the light of day again.’

Still kiwi agreed.

Since then, tui has worn two white feath­ers at his throat, the mark of a cow­ard. Pukeko has lived for­ever in a swamp, with wet feet. And Pipi­wha­rau­roa has never built another nest – instead the cuckoo always lays her eggs in other birds’ nests.

But because of kiwi’s great sac­ri­fice, he has become the most well-known and most loved bird of all.

Kiwi’s efforts in help­ing Tane-mahuta pro­tect his for­est from insect dam­age dis­play the char­ac­ter traits New Zealan­ders still admire today – integrity, humil­ity, loy­alty, com­mit­ment and courage.

Source: Tane’s eldest child


Known as the lit­tle brother of the ever pop­u­lar Mat­ter­hornKlein Mat­ter­horn (Klein mean small in Ger­man) offers a breath tak­ing view of the Mat­ter­horn and Mont Blanc on a clear day. With the ease of reach­ing to the top via a Gon­dola and being perched at a height of 12,740 ft (3,883 m) , it is the clos­est to expe­ri­enc­ing higher alti­tude with­out break­ing a sweat.

As as IAESTE trainee, I got to know about the week­end trip for theZer­matt well in advance. Hav­ing reg­is­tered early and this being my first trip to the alps, I was totally look­ing for­ward to it.

The jour­ney started from Win­terthur on a early morn­ing 4:30 train to Visp. Its a lit­tle town in the midst of a river and sur­rounded by huge moun­tains. The town itself is perched in the mid­dle of the val­ley and is part of the famous Glac­ier Express route.

The train from Visp starts slowly ascend­ing and tra­verses through the deep­est cleft val­ley in Switzer­land, the Niko­lai Val­ley. On one side of the track is the deep val­ley and on the other are the tall rocky peaks. Its here that one real­izes the true engi­neer­ing mar­vel, this train route is. With this route being build about a 100 years ago, one can only imag­ine the inge­nu­ity with which this was con­structed albeit the mod­ern gadgets.

After about an hour jour­ney and through few tun­nels, we reached the vil­lage of Zer­matt. The Haupt­bahn­hof is the start­ing point of the city cen­ter. It leads the road towards the hotels, hos­tels and the begin­ning of the Cable car. The streets are stud­ded with shops sell­ing lux­ury watches. Its just a eerie reminder of the class of peo­ple the city sees espe­cially dur­ing win­ter sea­son. With the famous ski­ing resorts and the Mat­ter­horn being the star attrac­tion, its the place of win­ter retreat for the bil­lion­aires from Rus­sia to far East.  Its also the start­ing point for Gorner­grat rail­way, the 2nd high­est moun­tain rail in the world at about 11,000 ft.

We dropped our bags at the Inter­na­tional Youth Hos­tels and walked towards the base of the cable car. This cable car starts at the vil­lage of Zer­matt which is at a height of about 5,300 ft and goes through the ham­let of Furi before reach­ing the sum­mit of Klein Mat­ter­horn. Dur­ing the jour­ney, we crossed the glac­ier and ascended about 5000 ft to reach the peak. With the glac­ier below and sur­rounded by Alps, the views offered dur­ing the jour­ney is breathtaking.

Zermatt from the Gondola

The cable car boasts of being sup­ported by one of the best heli­copter res­cue teams in the world. As the cable ascends the final 1000 ft, its heav­ily exposed to the winds. There has been cou­ple of occa­sions dur­ing win­ter when the cable had devel­oped tech­ni­cal snags and the pas­sen­gers had to be air lifted the res­cue team!

As we reached the peak, we could feel the breath becom­ing heavy. The air is thin and the tem­per­a­ture drops rapidly. With the wind, it feels even colder than what the ther­mome­ter reads. From the cable car plat­form, we take a lift by which we ascend about 100 ft inside the moun­tain to reach the steps of the obser­va­tory deck. Another few meters of steps and then we hit the sum­mit deck. Its a 360° open air deck which on a clear day gives a spec­tac­u­lar view of the Mat­ter­horn. Mont Blanc, the high­est moun­tain in the Europe could also be seen from here. This is also the Ital­ian bor­der and the start of Ital­ian alps.

From the deck, we could observe the Mat­ter­horn glac­ier, the famous Ski area and many peaks which were above 3500 m. It is the high­est obser­va­tion deck in the world and once again is an engi­neer­ing mar­vel.  The sum­mit also has a restau­rant and is used as a start­ing point to reach the ski­ing area.

As in most of the moun­tain­ous regions, weather is quiet erratic. So we set our descent  early. At the foot of the moun­tain there is a gorge made out lime­stone due to the streams flow­ing for hun­dreds of years. The scenes are straight out of “127 hours” movie.

Alto­gether the famous Zer­matt and its moun­tains are a class apart, made pos­si­ble by the intrigu­ing tech­no­log­i­cal break­throughs by the Swiss in the loco­mo­tives and high alti­tude construction.


Being a big fan of Mayan civ­i­liza­tion, i was excited to receive a gift from my Mex­i­can friend of a sou­venir which belonged to the Mayan civ­i­liza­tion. The curios­ity which was set resulted in me know­ing about the art of Ex Bal­anque masks. Fol­low­ing are some of the close shots of the minia­ture ver­sion of a head wear­ing the mask of Ex Balanque.

Thou­sands of years ago, at the begin­ning of the long count, before Ex Bal­anque (Black Jaguar) lived its golden age, long before Chichen Itza was a major city and even before the found­ing of Uxmal, the jaguar was already one of the most impor­tant sym­bols or emblems of the Maya culture.
Aztec, Mayan and Toltec sculp­tures and paint­ings por­tray war­riors wear­ing such masks, some­times depict­ing eagles, ser­pents or coy­otes rather than the jaguar.
The jaguar (Pan­thera onca) is an ani­mal with a promi­nent asso­ci­a­tion and appear­ance in the cul­tures and belief sys­tems of pre-Columbian Mesoamer­i­can societies.


Infor­ma­tion Sources

1. http://www.theyucatantimes.com/2012/11/the-black-jaguar-a-powerful-ancient-maya-symbol/

2. http://thestorybehindthefaces.com/2012/01/06/jaguar-helmet-masks-from-aztec-and-maya-to-diego-rivera-from-hercules-to-knights-in-shining-armor-and-hockey-masks/

3. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jaguars_in_Mesoamerican_cultures

Kanva Reservoir

Perched in a small valley at a distance of around 55Kms from Bangalore, it is an ideal one-day joy ride from the city. It has an interesting history of its own, being planned by by none other than the Dewan of the Princely state of Mysore Sir M.Visvesvaraya in the year 1946

Perched in a small valley at a distance of around 55Kms from Bangalore, it is an ideal one-day joy ride from the city.Once we reach Janapada Loka after Channapattana, there is a deviation of 8kms from the highway. This road leads into a small mountain terrain and a suddenly there is a huge water body at our view. Kanva reservoir is a nice get-away spot from the hectic life of the city.

Continue reading “Kanva Reservoir”

Photos of Old India and its culture

These are a collection of rare photos of the life of Indians in early 20th century .

These are a collection of rare photos of the life of Indians in early 20th century and their proud culture .

Imperial Airways London

The Imperial Airways ‘Hanno’ Hadley Page passenger airplane carries the England to India air mail, stopping in Sharjah to refuel.

Jama Masjid mosque

An aerial view of Jama Masjid mosque in Delhi , built between 1650 and 1658.


A group from Vaishnava, a sect founded by a Hindu mystic. His followers are called Gosvami-maharajahs.


Women gather at a party in Mumbai ( Bombay ) in 1910.


A rare view of the President’s palace and the Parliament building in New Delhi


A group of Dancing or nautch girls began performing with their elaborate costumes and jewelry.


The Grand Trunk Road , built by Sher Shah Suri, was the main trade route from Calcutta to Kabul .


A British man gets a pedicure from an Indian servant.


The daughter of an Indian maharajah seated on a panther she shot, sometime during 1920s.


Lord Macaulay’s address to the British parliament in 1835.

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